Réunion Island (Indian Ocean) has been suffering from its first known Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) epidemic since February 2005. To achieve a better understanding of the disease, a questionnaire was drawn up for hospital staff members and their household. CHIKV infected about one-third of the studied population, the proportion increasing with age and being higher in women. Presence of a garden was associated with CHIKV infection. The geographical distribution of cases was concordant with insect vector Aedes albopictus distribution. The main clinical signs were arthralgia and fever. The disease evolved towards full recovery in 34·4% of cases, a relapse in 55·6%, or a chronic form in 10%. Paracetamol was used as a painkiller in 95% of cases, sometimes associated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, corticoids, or traditional herbal medicine. The survey provided valuable information on the factors that favour transmission, the clinical signs, the importance of relapses and the therapies used.
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